For many women, the menstrual cycle can last anywhere from a week to two weeks each month. This includes both menstruation and the period of time leading up to it, when many women experience symptoms of PMS. Luckily, there are several ways to decrease both the length and painful effects of menstruation and PMS.
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Birth control pills are not only used to prevent pregnancy, but also to relieve painful menstrual symptoms and length of bleeding. Columbia University's Go Ask Alice site explains that oral contraception works by stopping ovulation. Most types of birth control pills provide a week of placebo pills in order for menstruation to occur, but several newer pills on the market, including Seasonale, allow for the period to only happen four times a year.
Several herbs are reported to naturally balance hormones, and therefore shorten periods that are excessively long, but chasteberry in particular is purported to help. According to DiagnoseMe.com, chasteberry works through the hypothalamus-pituitary chemical pathway in order to normalize progesterone and prolactin levels. Since lowered progesterone at other phases in the menstrual cycle can cause heavy periods, increasing this hormone often leads to shorter, lighter periods. As always, use caution when trying any herbal remedy, as these remedies are not regulated by the FDA.
Increasing the amount of exercise you do throughout the month may also help with shortening menstruation. UCSB's SexInfoOnline notes that "studies have shown that an increased amount of strenuous cardiovascular exercise (such as running or vigorous sports) greatly reduces the length of a woman's period." As with both birth control pills and chasteberry, another positive side effect may include less cramping and PMS.
Intercourse or Masturbation
Achieving orgasm through sexual intercourse or masturbation may also shorten the length of menstruation. According to Everyday Health, this is due to the additional contractions that the uterus experiences during orgasm, which may help to shed menstrual blood faster. An added bonus is that cramp relief may also occur thanks to the endorphins released during the sexual act.